Why is Career Planning Important: Think Like a Pro
Hiring managers often ask candidates questions about career planning, such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, “What would it mean for you to get this job?” or “What are your career goals?”
Moreover, depending on your age and circumstances, you could be at the beginning of your career or considering career planning for a change of direction. Either way, clarity for your career strategy will go a long way to securing a better job.
When and why do you start career planning?
- You dread waking up on a Monday morning
- You feel dissatisfied at work most of the time
- Your career is stagnating
- You’ve been fired or made redundant
- You’re about to start job hunting
- You have recently graduated or left college
- You may be considering starting a new business
- Your manager is driving you insane
- The working environment is toxic
- A global crisis has impacted your industry
- Your needs have changed: New family, divorce, relocation etc
- Why do Hiring managers ask Questions about Career Planning?
- Why is Career Planning Important?
- When do you Start Planning Your Career?
- The Benefits of Career Planning
- Conclusion: Why is Career Planning Important: Think Like a Pro
Why do Hiring managers ask Questions about Career Planning?
A hiring manager aims to match a candidate’s long-term aspirations with the organisation’s objectives. It helps improve their hiring decisions, creates a successful talent acquisition strategy and increases job offer acceptance rates.
When you receive an invite to an interview, you appreciate the benefits of researching the company to understand its branding, mission statement and values, workplace culture and long-term goals.
Above all, to prepare for the interview, you can tailor your questions and answers to ensure your career planning aligns with the company. Discussing career strategies that match the company’s long-term objectives is essential, as many candidates fail to do this and leave the interview with little chance of a job offer.
Why is Career Planning Important?
You can either engineer the career you want or float through life, hoping for a career breakthrough. Creating a solid career intention can transcend your working life into job satisfaction, career opportunities and growth.
Knowing what you want explicitly gives structure to your career strategy by mapping a clear path for what you want to achieve and when. If transitioning into a Web3 career, consider your skillset, hard and soft skills, and personality for your chosen profession. For example, do you prefer working alone or remotely, or are you happier working closely with a team?
John, an outgoing extrovert, trained as a UX designer and enjoyed the training. He felt confident it was the right career move for him. After qualifying, he quickly found a job working remotely. It paid well, had an excellent benefits package, and John was delighted with his job offer.
At first, he found the work easy and was happy. However, after a few months, John became depressed. In addition, his wife worked in an office all day, and he became lonely without the interaction with colleagues that he had in his previous job as a product marketing manager.
Thankfully, John spoke with his manager and expressed his concerns. The company agreed that John could work in the office 2-3 days a week. Although the long distance meant overnight stays, the company were happy with John’s work and agreed to cover costs.
When outlining your career path, consider everything that matters to you, such as: –
- Are you happy working alone or prefer working with others?
- How much money do you need (and want) to earn?
- What would be a suitable benefits package for you? For example, if you have a family, life and health insurance would be an important consideration
- Do you have a family? If so, structure your career plans to fit with family needs.
- What are your plans for continuous professional development? Does your chosen career provide enough time and finances to support ongoing professional development?
What is the Cost of Poor Career Planning?
You think you know your dream job and spend most of your time dreaming about how wonderful it will be when you receive a job offer. However, many candidates fail to consider the balance between what you want and what it costs.
Joanne was a successful sales representative and wanted to leave her current industry in architectural hardware to work for a well-known pet food company. She loved dogs and believed it would be her dream job to work for the company whose products she used.
Joanne received a job offer and started full of excitement for her new role. She had a fancy new, turbo-charged car, an excellent salary and a benefits package.
Joanne hadn’t realised that only four sales representatives, including herself, covered the entire UK. Some weeks, she drove over 1,000 miles or had to stay in a hotel.
The company were demanding. Joanne would receive requests to drive to a one-hour meeting a hundred miles away with only a day’s notice. Even during weekends and holidays, and time off sick with chickenpox, the company called her requesting work to complete.
In addition, Joanne struggled to find someone to care for her dogs at short notice. One day, her elderly dog had a stroke. Joanne was due to leave for a meeting, so she called her manager after returning from visiting the vet’s surgery. Her manager refused to allow Joanne to allow her to miss the meeting so she could stay with her dog.
After attending an utterly pointless meeting, Joanne drove home and decided to quit. Her dream job had turned out to be her worst nightmare.
What went wrong?
Joanne had a false picture of her dream job. She hadn’t clarified what was important to her other than having the ideal career.
A few weeks later, she returned to an architectural hardware role working in a small geographical area close to home.
Joanne finally clarified what was important in her career: –
- No long-distance travel: Working close to home so she can care for her pets and spend time with friends.
- A relaxed manager.
- A decent salary with commissions
- Career progression based on sales results (at her pace).
- No unnecessary meetings.
- When not at work, the company respected her free time.
- Autonomy for her work: Joanne enjoys self-responsibility and does not enjoy micromanaging.
When do you Start Planning Your Career?
Some people are lucky to know what career to pursue from an early age. They grow up to become pilots, nurses, doctors, lawyers and architects. For the rest of us, we meander through our working life, trying to find a greater purpose for our work.
That’s OK, especially if you are a new graduate.
The gurus suggest we discover what we love and then pursue a career doing that. Is that possible? Well, yes, depending on what interests you. For example, maybe you love playing video games and writing stories. Your mum drives you insane, telling you to stop playing games and get a proper job. However, why not combine the two things you enjoy and become a video game writer? Job done!
Perhaps you’re an artist. If so, why not become a graphic designer or video game designer? If you hate technology, don’t become a blockchain developer or seek a position in a metaverse role.
How about if you are in the twilight of your career? Perhaps you’re 40 – 60 years old and suddenly realise you hate your job. What do you do? Is it too late to change careers?
It’s NEVER too late to find a career you enjoy, NEVER.
Don’t autopilot your career. Make a plan using a career template, such as: –
- What are my strengths?
- How about my weaknesses?
- What qualifications do I have?
- Could I acquire more qualifications relevant to my new career direction?
- Am I happiest working creatively?
- Do I love technology?
- Would I prefer working from home?
- Do I prefer flexible working?
- What makes me happiest and most energised?
- How important is my work/life balance? Am I a workaholic or a sloth?
- What industry appeals to me?
- What are my core values?
- What are my long-term goals?
- Do I prefer a fast-paced environment or a Zen-type atmosphere?
- Would I like to work with animals or young people?
- Am I computer savvy?
- What career options match my personality and skills?
- Could I job shadow to see if I enjoy my chosen career?
- Is there anyone I know who could mentor or advise me about my career?
It can also help to talk with people who know you well, such as your spouse or friends. It’s easy to become blind to our nature; others often see us better than we see ourselves. For example, many people believe they aren’t creative, but others describe them as gifted in creativity.
Once you have decided on a career direction, the next step is to start working on your goals and objectives.
Think S.M.A.R.T Goals
S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym commonly used to create criteria for accomplishing goals and objectives.
The idea caught on after ex-director and consultant George T. Doran published a paper in 1981, “There’s a SMART way to write management’s goals and objectives.”
Setting a specific goal means chunking down the details, such as: –
- Why do you want to pursue this career goal?
- Who can you talk to, and who needs to be involved in decisions and activities towards the goal?
- What exactly do you need to accomplish?
- When do you want to achieve the goal?
- Where do you want to work? Would this career change involve relocating, and do you want to work remotely?
How will you measure progress on your career planning? Set milestones with clear metrics to assess step-by-step progress.
Is your goal realistic? What obstacles might halt progress? For instance, if you want to become a Chief Marketing Officer but have no experience, can you afford the training, and how long would it take to qualify? Could you start at a lower level of marketing to gain experience?
Does your career goal make logical sense relating to your life, personality, skills, family demands and values? For example, suppose you want to travel the world but are getting married and buying a house in a few months. Is this career move relevant concerning the timing, and does it fit your partner’s needs within the relationship?
The R in SMART goals should not cause you to lose motivation, but a dose of reality helps you get clearer with your goals.
Set a realistic target date for goal achievement or milestone and timebound targets. Setting time targets can help you stay productive and avoid procrastination.
Now you have set your SMART goals, let’s explore the benefits of career planning.
The Benefits of Career Planning
There’s no downside to planning your career. It will help you understand what you want from your working life, how to achieve goals and see opportunities for career development.
We spend a big chunk of our lives working, and there’s nothing worse than being in a job you hate. Creating a clear action plan will help you crush your career goals and find your dream job. When you feel on track and achieve your goals, it’s a massive confidence boost.
An Impact on Your Health and Well-Being
A Gallup 2022 report indicates that workplace stress is at an all-time high, higher than the previous high in 2020. The report states that 44% of employees experienced stress daily in 2022, with women in Canada and the United States as the most stressed employees worldwide.
Stress can create many health issues, including an association with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
No job is worth suffering daily stress, so finding a career you love makes sense to become your priority.
Discover What’s Not Working
When you start thinking about your career in-depth, you begin noticing patterns. What sort of work drains your energy, and when do you feel energised? Is it becoming harder to look forward to Monday morning, and is Friday afternoon the week’s highlight?
It’s too easy to move through life in an automated state, not realising we are dying from unhappiness in our work. A helpful tip is to check in with yourself daily and ask, “Am I awake?” You may be surprised how “asleep at the wheel” you are with your career.
Discover New Opportunities For Learning
Committing to lifelong learning and professional development helps you command a higher income and bring added value to your employers. Most certificated courses are available online, including degrees. There is no limitation as to what you can achieve.
Design Your Career
Instead of floating through life, from job to job, you can design the career of your dreams. The limitation is only in your mind and what you believe is possible. Regardless of age, it’s never too late to start designing your career and bringing joy to your life instead of the slog of doing work you loathe.
Conclusion: Why is Career Planning Important: Think Like a Pro
To sum up, career planning might seem unnecessary or dull, but it can change your life. After graduation, many students clearly understand how their working life will manifest. However, with experience and the wisdom of age, we often find ourselves in dissatisfying careers that no longer fulfil our dreams.
At that point, do you give up and continue living a life of unrequited job satisfaction? Or do you grab the reins, decide on a new challenge and take the initiative to design the perfect career for you?
It is NEVER too late!
What are the four components of career development?
- Decision making
- Action taking
What is most important in career planning?
Above all, the most critical component of career planning is self-awareness. We’re all guilty of jumping into a career we think we will love and then finding it makes us miserable.
The more you know about yourself and your needs, the more likely you will align with a career providing everything you need.
How do I manage my career effectively?
As we transition into Web3 and attempt to negotiate the demands of a changing environment and a failing economy, we must embrace change, adapt to new technologies, and stay ahead of emerging trends.
Stay alert to trending markets, remain curious about your career, network within your chosen industry and commit to lifelong learning. For example, in 2023, ignoring the emergence of Artificial Intelligence is a mistake. AI will become prevalent in our lives, so start learning everything you can, NOW.
Start your AI education by reading, “Will robots rule the world one day?”
Why are my career decisions so important?
Making career decisions impacts your financial security. When you’re twenty years old, it feels like you have a lifetime ahead and don’t need to worry about financial security. After all, your mum probably still does your washing. However, time catches up with you quicker than you think.
For example, when Sarah, an IT contractor, reached the age of sixty, she couldn’t afford to retire and lived in rented accommodation. As a natural tech geek, Sarah loved technology.
After a lengthy discussion with her husband, Sarah trained as a cyber security engineer at a top training school. The training was expensive, but Sarah felt aligned with her career goal.
As soon as Sarah qualified, she received multiple job offers. Today, in 2023, she averages between £600 – £1000 a day as a cyber security engineer and loves her work.
Jan is a SEO copywriter, brand advisor, content strategist & case study specialist writing for crypto, recruitment, and SaaS companies. Jan lives in the Cotswold's UK with two rescue dogs. Since 2020, Jan has written hundreds of SEO articles for various crypto companies including CB Recruitment & Coin Bureau.
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